Monday, October 25, 2010

Lisa's Whipped Frosting Recipe

Since my last post, several people have been asking me for my whipped frosting recipe (that I used on the Duckum's wedding cake).  People who don't like cupcakes couldn't stop eating these because of the frosting.  Some people even thought it was whipped cream.  This seems like the best way to get the word out, so if you are interested in an easy frosting recipe that tastes light and creamy and not too sweet, give it a try (and let me know what you think).


1 Cup whole milk
1 TBSP all purpose flour
1 TBSP corn starch
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 Cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
1/4 tsp salt
color as desired

In a saucepan, combine milk, flour, and corn starch.  Cook and stir until mixture thickens, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.  Then, in a stand mixer, cream together sugar, butter, and salt.  Add cooked milk mixture and vanilla and whip until fluffy.  This is the most important step!  Whip this frosting on medium-high speed  for at least 10 minutes.  If you test it and it's not awesome, that means you haven't whipped it long enough.  Keep whipping!  Also, you can make this the day before, but you will have to re-whip it before frosting a cake or cupcakes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Baby Sister is Married!

I have been very busy over the last 4 weeks helping my sister Emily prepare for her October 2nd wedding to Michael Duckum.  The wedding was in a beautiful setting (my parent's back yard).  At first the weather was "iffy", but then when time for the wedding came (3pm), the sun came with it!  It was awesome.  Doesn't my sister make a beautiful bride?

I was priviledged to be her Matron of Honor, while her 18 year old son, Taylor, was the Best Man.  I wish I had more pictures to show you, but I am still waiting for more to trickle in....

The decorations were beautiful, the weather cooperated, and the day was a complete success!

My Mom and I and an army of helpers did all the food.  We had a very ambitious hors d'oeuvres menu which consisted of hot and cold items.  On the hot side we served: teriyaki chicken skewers, bleu cheese tarts, jalapeno poppers, bacon wrapped chicken packages, lumpia, mini crabcakes with roasted red pepper aoli, oysters on the half shell, and steamed clams.  On the cold side we served shrimp coctail shooters, smoked salmon canapes, roast beef and artichoke canapes, pinwheel sandwiches, bleu cheese stuffed grapes, and sweet cream cheese stuffed strawberries.  Everything was so yummy!  If I get any pictures, I'll post them later, because it all looked beautiful, too.

Since Emily and Michael were on a tight budget, my Mom offered to pay for the food as part of her wedding gift, and I offered to make the cake as part of my gift.  I'm not sure what I was thinking, as I've never attempted to make a wedding cake before, except that I knew that she couldn't really afford to buy one, and that cupcakes were a popular option right now.  Armed with that knowledge, I supposed I could figure it out and talked her into trusting me....Then here's what I decided to do:

I went to the hardware store and bought a 4X8 piece of 1/4" maple plywood and paid them to cut it to my specifications (they were not happy with me!).  Then I drilled and nailed together 5 boxes that rest on top of each other like this.

Emily wanted chocolate cake, so I made chocolate devil's food cupcakes, and a small cake for the top (they wanted to be able to "cut the cake").  My Mom begged me not to use buttercream icing, because she hates how sweet it is, so I spent 2 weeks developing a recipe that tasted light and creamy, but not too sweet, and that was stable enough to hold up during the festivities.  I was happy with the result, until the sun came out and smiled on the cake, at which time I started panicking because I really thought it would melt the icing off, but to my surprise it didn't, and everyone said it was delicious.  Whew!  What a relief!  Here's the finished cake:

There were 94 cupcakes and about 60 guests.  At the end of the day, we only had about 20 cupcakes left, so somebody must have liked them!  You can't see it in this picture, but since she had a "sea" theme, I made little seashell candies out of white chocolate and put a purple one on top of each cupcake, and I made white ones to put on the top cake.  You can see them better in this picture:

As part of my gift, I ordered the cake topper and presented it to the couple before the ceremony.  I had planned to put it on top of the tower, but the top cake was too soft and it started to sink, so I had to place it on the second tier.  Here's a picture of the topper:

Here are a few more pictures from the wedding:

Mom, Emily, and Me.  What a team!

First dance as man and wife.

 Into the sunset.

Pure happiness.

"The four Emilys"

Lastly, there is this picture of the four Emilys.  As it turns out, there were 4 Emilys at the wedding.  Left to right:  (1) the daughter of a friend, (2) cousin Laleania's daughter, (3) the Bride, (4) my daughter Emily.  Both Emilys flanking the bride are actually named after her!  If you think it's funny that there were 4 Emilys at this wedding, imagine how confusing it was to also have 5 Michaels!  :)

Pulling this wedding together in 4 weeks was hard work, and I want to thank all the people who helped out, because we wouldn't have been able to do it without you!  Glad to be a part of it, and glad to have it done, I came home afterward and slept like the dead most of the next 2 days!

Next up: figuring out Halloween costumes for 4 kids......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Phone Nazi

Samsung Intensity II

We have always maintained the attitude that kids do not need cell phones, except maybe for when they start driving.  Recently, prompted by much whining that he is the only person on the earth without a cell phone (not true, I checked), we began to re-think our position on kids and cell phones.  We made a list of all the usual pros and cons, and then went a little deeper.

We started to look at how the world of communication has changed over the last 10 to 15 years.  15 Years ago we did not own nor think we needed cell phones ourselves, as we thought of them as more of a luxury than a necessity.  While we still consider them to be a luxury, we also recognize that a huge part of many people's social lives today revolve around having that instant access to talk to or text their friends from anywhere.  When I consult my crystal ball I see that the only thing that will stop this teenage cell phone obsession is the invention of newer, better technology.  In the not so distant future, I can picture kids walking around talking to holographic images of their friends being transmitted from who knows where, just as if they were really hanging out together.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that technology is only going to get more advanced as the years go by, and why not give our kids the opportunity to progress with it?

On the other hand, there are many good reasons we may not want to give our kids a phone of their own.  I have seen countless (really) kids who constantly lose their cell phones, or ruin them by dropping them in water, etc.  And how many times have you heard a parent complaining that their teen jacked up their cell phone bill by $200.00 worth of over-texting?  Then there's the question of cell phones in school.  I hate the idea of sending my kids to school only to have them spend their day texting instead of learning.

After much discussion with our 14 year old son, here is what we finally agreed to:

1.  D. may have a phone when he is able to pay for it.  We will add him to our plan, but he must pay $10.00 per month (what it will cost us), plus $5.00 per month to add on "parental controls".  If he does not pay his bill on time each month, his service will be suspended until he pays his bill.  The initial startup for the phone he chose was $95.00, which he also paid for.

2.  "Parental Controls".  Daniel's phone will be disabled (except for a select list of family members' numbers) during the following hours:  Seminary, school, church meetings, and after 9pm on school nights (11pm on weekends).  He is allowed unlimited texts and 200 anytime minutes per month before his phone blocks those phone calls.  He will not able to download any premium content to his phone.

3.  D. and his parents must all sign a detailed contract.  (I don't know how to post it here, so If you want a copy, please send me your email and I'll forward it to you.)  The contract lists what we expect from him, what he can expect from us, as well as all the reasons he can get his cell phone revoked while still having to pay for the contract.  It will be a challenge for him, but we hope it will also be a good learning experience. 

We see this agreement as a way to give our son something he wants, as well as to teach him a lesson about financial and contractual responsibility.  We hope that he will appreciate this opportunity and take it seriously, because if he doesn't, he will soon find that his parents were very serious when they signed that contract!

So, after all these years of begging, D. finally has a cell phone of his own.  Does he thank me for reconsidering his plight and finally siding with him?  No, he dubs me the "Phone Nazi".  I guess we know what we have to work on next...

Friday, August 27, 2010

The KitchenAid has landed!

I have wanted a KitchenAid mixer for as long as I can remember, yet it always seemed to be just out of my reach.  I have had many hand mixers over the years, none of which lasted very long in my mostly made-from-scratch kitchen.  It is so frustrating to spend good money on a mixer only to have it rise up in revolt and try to electrocute me after only about 2 years of abuse.

Over the last few months, Tom has been hinting at getting me a KitchenAid stand mixer, but I have resisted (who in their right mind would spend so much moolah on a small kitchen appliance??).  I almost got one for my 40th birthday in March, then I almost got one for Mother's Day in May, etc.  In the end, my resistance was futile.  Through a combination of Tom's superior reasoning skills (It would really make your life easier) and flattery (plus you really deserve it), he finally won me over, and boy am I glad he did!

I am in love with my new KitchenAid Professional 600 Series, 6 quart mixer!  I have used it every day since it was delivered and have had nothing but success so far.  The first thing I made was a double batch of Tom's favorite cookies (I suspect he had alterior motives here).  In the past, I have always used my "big silver bowl" for this purpose.  You know, the one that's bigger than the kitchen sink?  The one that your kids could swim in on a hot day?  Yes, that one.  Anyway, I put my new toy to the test and I'm happy to say that it passed!  So far (to name a few) I have made 48 dozen cookies, a double batch of lemon cheesecake bars, and 9 loaves of bread with total success.  Don't worry, I gave LOTS of the cookies away before Tom even knew I had baked them!

If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, I'd love to hear what you think of yours.  Maybe you'll even share a favorite recipe for me to try?  (hint, hint)

Now that the object of my obsession occupies a coveted place on my countertop, I couldn't possibly ask for anything more, except maybe for that Vita Mix Deluxe 5200 Blender that's been taunting me lo these many years...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Slap on the Wrist!

It has been half a year since I've updated my blog.  I didn't think much of this until today, when a couple of good friends let me know that they are tired of checking my blog only to find it stagnant.  I apologize to them and anyone else who feels let down by my blogging neglect.  I promise to try to do better in the future.

Rather than try to include everything that's happened over the last 6 months, I will talk about a few of the highlights today, leaving some info. as subject matter for future blog posts, thereby encouraging me to update my little blog more often.  Enjoy!

First of all, 3 of my kids have had birthdays.  Most notably was Mikey's 1st birthday in March.  The poor kid had to eat his cake with no teeth because he didn't cut his very first tooth until the day after his birthday!  It didn't seem to bother him, although I couldn't be sure how much of it went inside him compared to how much of it ended up on the outside!

OK, so we took a trip to Long Beach for Spring Break this year and it was a lot of fun, but it was COLD!  We spent most of our time indoors, either shopping or watching the thousands of clamdiggers that converged on Long Beach for the opening weekend of razor clam season.

In June we took off again for a Johnson Family reunion in Lake Tahoe where we camped for a week and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the lake.  I especially enjoyed the 3-1/2 hour paddleboat cruise we took that was very fun and informative.  While we were there, Me and the kids also toured some old mansions on the lakeside and learned a lot more about the history of the area (I love that kind of thing, and afterward even the teenagers admitted that it was cool.)  We did some shopping, hung out with distant family members, and had an all around good time together.

Cruises aren't so exciting for Tom.  He takes a boat to work and back every day!

Too much for Hannah!

Emerald Bay - the 2nd most photographed place in the US.  If you look carefully, you'll see Allan, Leanne, and Kira in the foreground next to the waterfall.

After a week at Lake Tahoe, we headed to Utah for more adventures.  We did a lot there and I have lots of pictures to download before I can write about it properly.  Hopefully it won't be 6 more months before I get around to doing that!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year Reflections

January 1st, 2010.  I can't believe it when I see that date in print.  I remember being a girl of 9 years old and looking forward to the future.  I remember thinking that the year 2000 was SOOOO far away!  I was born in 1970, so the year 2000 represented a lot to me.  First of all, it was the year I would turn 30 years old - I was pretty sure I wouldn't live that long, I mean, not even my parents were THAT OLD!!!  Also, I thought of all the things that would be different in the future.  Technology (we still had 8-tracks when I was a kid), cars (I wanted a hovercar so badly!), and I thought food would be made in "replicators" (I watched Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica alot back then).  It's fun to think back to how things used to be (remote control?  Microwave oven? VCR?  What are those???) compared to how they are now (I'm typing this on my laptop via WIFI connection).

In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined my life today.  Although I have always believed in God, (I used to call "prayer lines" advertised on TV and have them pray with me - it was free back then), I didn't belong to any organized religion until 1984 when I was 14 and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Arguably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.  That decision has guided me to every good thing and blessing in my life.  First of all, I not only survived to the age of 30, but I will be turning 40 a mere 2 months from today (God willing!).  Also, I have learned how to be more Christlike.  I value service to others, kindness, honesty and faith in God.  I served a mission at age 21 and learned a lot more about the Gospel and about myself and others.  I was married to Tom, my best friend and eternal companion in the Seattle Temple in 1995 and we are now the proud parents of many beautiful, intelligent children.  I am especially blessed with the opportunity to be a stay at home Mom to them.  We had 2 babies of our own, are in the process of adopting 2 more, and for the past year, we have been foster parents for several newborns who, unfortunately, have been born affected by drugs or alchohol and must be protected from those influences until a safe and permanent home can be provided for them.  Our family has been very blessed by this service to others, and sometimes I wonder who is getting more out of this; the babies, or us?

It's not that we haven't faced challenges over the years.  To the contrary, we've had our share, it's just that with the Gospel in our lives, we have the tools we need to deal with them.  We learn and grow from each tragedy, heartbreak, and disaster.  I have learned to be grateful for the challenges in my life because, even though they are difficult to deal with at the time, their true value lies in their ability to make us better, stronger, and more prepared not only to deal with future challenges, but they also prepare us to help others in unique ways.

That being said, I hope that everyone who reads this has a very happy and healthy new year.  I hope that you will accomplish all your goals and receive every good thing you hope for throughout the year.  I know that I am excited about what the year will bring.  Our 15 year wedding anniversary (I still love you, babe!), a milestone birthday for me, a milestone birthday for M (he'll be 1 in March!), a child entering high school/seminary and being old enough for Youth Conference and Church dances, and hopefully 2 adoptions will become final during this year, which will be the biggest blessing of all.